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Minor Hydrogen Leak Discovered At San Onofre Over Weekend

A minor hydrogen leak was detected over the weekend at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County, but it was small and presented no health risk to employees or the public, Southern California Edison announced today.

The leak occurred Sunday in a pipe in a non-nuclear area of the facility, and it was reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to SCE. The utility said a fitting will have to be replaced.

The hydrogen, which is lighter than air, rose up and dissipated, according to SCE.

The nuclear plant's two reactors have been shut down since January, one for planned maintenance and the other after a leak was discovered in a steam generator tube. A subsequent investigation found unusual wear in many of the tubes.

The utility said the hydrogen leak had nothing to do with testing that took place this weekend.

A group called Friends of the Earth issued a statement calling the latest problem "strong evidence'' that the plant is unsafe to restart.

The NRC and SCE, which operates the plant, said they won't restart the reactors until it is safe to do so. San Diego Gas & Electric owns a 20 percent share and receives one-fifth of its power.

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